My fourth book, Creative Type, will be out soon. I’m waiting for my third–and hopefully final–proof copy, which should arrive next week. I’m tired of making minor changes to the document, not liking the changes, changing them back, then changing them again. I have to release the book. I have to let it go. Stay tuned.
I’m happy to announce I’m working on my fourth book. It’s called Creative Type. I’m also laying the groundwork for my fifth book, The Education of Chris Truman. I won’t be updating this blog much in the near future. After Creative Type, I’m looking to go beyond my usual academic essay format. I’ll still post poetry and personal essays, but you’ll find less long-winded quotes from obscure French philosophers. Stay tuned!
When I say I’m allergic to milk, people ask if I’m lactose intolerant. It’s much worse. If I eat anything with milk in it, I can go into anaphylactic shock. You know how bee stings kill innocent children at amusement parks or Fourth of July barbeques? That could be me but with pizza, frozen yogurt, French silk pie, or bite size Milky Ways.
I can’t eat cake and ice cream at birthday parties unless my mom made the cake from a dairy-free mix and topped it with soy ice cream. Cross-contamination is my kryptonite. Every time I go out to eat, even at my favorite restaurant, where I always order a chopped steak and plain baked potato, I’m tempting fate.
In fifth grade I almost died while working on a science project at my friend Paul’s house. We were building a Styrofoam model of the solar system in his basement. Back then Pluto was still a planet.
I rarely ate at friends’ houses, but Paul’s mom made tomato soup for lunch and insisted I try some. My mom had made me tomato soup before, so this seemed like a safe bet.
After my first spoonful, I felt a slight tingle in the back of my throat. This happens when I start to eat sometimes, but then I’m fine, I thought. I wanted to be a good guest, so I took another spoonful. Then another. More tingling. I told Paul’s mom the soup was great, but I had a big breakfast and wasn’t that hungry. When I took my bowl to the sink, she asked why I hadn’t touched my glass of milk.
“Oh, I’m allergic to milk,” I said.
“But I put milk in the soup,” she said.
Apparently, cream of tomato soup is not the same as plain old tomato soup.
Stunned, I reached for my backpack, where I kept tissues, my inhaler, and a small bottle of Benadryl. For some reason, I thought two teaspoons of Benadryl would counteract the cup of poison Paul’s mom had unwittingly given me. Denying the gravity of the situation, I told Paul the medicine would kick in and I’d be fine. I didn’t want to alarm anyone, even though my body had already gone into attack mode.
First, there was the uncontrollable sneezing. Then, as if stuck in a vice, my chest began to tighten. My lips swelled. Hives formed around every part of my body that bends—under my arms, between my fingers, behind my knees.
Rather than calling my parents or asking Paul’s mom to drive me home, I decided to walk the two blocks from Paul’s house to mine. This decision wasn’t out of character for me. I didn’t want to bother people or feel like a burden. That day, not asking for help almost killed me.
Out the door I went. It was January and the sidewalks were covered in snow, so I stayed in the street, sneezing my head off. Half a block from home, I started running and almost collapsed. Somehow I made it to my front door, barely able to speak. My mom called 9-1-1. The paramedics brought me to the emergency room where a dedicated team of doctors and nurses saved my life.
Thirteen years after the tomato soup incident, I almost died again. Struggling to find a path in life after college, I fell into a deep depression. After months of feeling sad, anxious, and hopeless, I swallowed a bunch of pills and called my mom at work to tell her I was in trouble. She rushed home, as did my father, who drove us to the emergency room where another dedicated team of doctors and nurses saved my life.
In the psych ward the next morning, I was surprised to find a carton of milk on my breakfast tray. Convinced the universe was playing a cruel joke on me, I gave it to a nurse.
“This could kill me,” I said.
The staff probably thought I was paranoid, but I was thinking clearly. Kind words from an ER nurse who cared for me the day before had struck a chord.
“You’re so young,” she said. “You have so much to look forward to.”
I did have a lot to look forward to, and thanks to her, I still do.
I know I’m a sensitive person. I haven’t outgrown my milk allergy and I’m still in treatment for depression. Sometimes I think I’m weak or damaged. In truth, I’m a survivor of two potentially life-threatening medical conditions.
My mom taught me to be kind towards others. With the love and support of family, friends, doctors, nurses, and therapists, I’m learning how to show myself kindness. Dare I say, the milk of human kindness.
I remember navigating the perilous parking lots of Randhurst Mall with my father as a child. He’d sing “I Want to Hold Your Hand” by the Beatles whenever cars got too close, a gentle reminder to hold his hand. I trusted him because he was a certified crossing guard in grammar school, “an expert in pedestrian safety and playground traffic control,” as he told it.
I also remember my father teaching me how to drive in the parking lot of our favorite restaurant, the Prime Minister, before the lunch crowd arrived. I had plenty to learn. A few minutes into my first lesson, the car stalled because I wasn’t giving it enough gas.
Of course, hazards aren’t confined to parking lots. Life is full of obstacles both visible and invisible. Sometimes we block our own paths to freedom. We overeat, drink too much, abuse drugs. Unhealthy coping strategies compound our pain.
I remember watching my father slowly kill himself with cigarettes—two packs of Pall Mall or Chesterfield per day. I begged him to stop. He said he would. He never did.
Our house smelled musty all the time because he refused to smoke outside. Our living room drapes turned yellow. There were burn holes on the carpet in front of his favorite chair.
My mother and I suffered breathing problems and sinus infections. When I showed up smelling like smoke at the doctor’s office one day, a concerned nurse told me to quit while I was still young. Embarrassed, I told her I never smoked, but my father did. She said I was basically smoking too, just by living with him.
When my father sang that Beatles song in the Randhurst parking lot, he was already thinking about his next cigarette. Thirty minutes into every movie we saw, he left the theater for a drag. Thirty minutes later, he left again. I had to explain everything he missed.
The steering wheel of his Oldsmobile Cutlass Supreme was so sticky I had to wash my hands when we got home. After my first lesson, I asked if I should empty the car’s ashtray because it was so full. He told me to wait until the ashes cooled.
My father smoked for fifty-five years. I was alive during the final twenty-five. His powerlessness to quit led me to question how much control I really have in my life.
The last time my father rode in a car, my mother was driving us to the hospital. I sat next to him in the backseat, holding his hand as he struggled to breathe. When we entered the emergency room, I asked a security guard for a wheelchair.
“I think I have emphysema,” my father told a nurse. He died twelve hours later.
I love my father dearly. I just wish I could’ve saved him from himself.
Some prick at the gym called me a pussy. I said I am what I eat. I was going commando. He gave me a wedgie.
“If you must write, risk your life to write.” So writes Charles B. Snoad in Double Meaning, a collection of deeply personal poems and essays. Inspired by thinkers like Jean Baudrillard and Albert Camus, Snoad shares his struggles with depression and his love of writing. As the title suggests, double meanings abound and some serious wordplay ensues as Snoad takes us on a journey through darkness into hope.
Also, I created a Kindle version of my second book, Nervous Lethargy, here.
My new book, Double Meaning, will be out soon! I ordered a proof copy that should arrive tomorrow. I already know, however, that I’m going to make some changes, after which I’ll need to order another proof. So, hang tight. I’m still on track for an early November release.
To earn a living, you have to quit dreaming. To fall in love, you have to get over yourself. Working and dating: two chores I have no energy for.
Four months ago, I announced that I had a third book in the works. Today this book has a title: Double Meaning. I hope to publish it via CreateSpace by November 2018. Details to follow. Meanwhile, check out the new design of the blog.
I don’t have any details, but today I began working on my third book. More to follow.